Historic Brownsville Market Square Makeover

Brownsville, TEXAS  – The Market Square Revitalization Project is currently underway in the heart of Downtown Brownsville.

Slated for completion in May 2017, the Market Square Revitalization Project includes the undergrounding or relocating of electric distribution systems – wires, transformers and other equipment – along Market Square Street and within the alleyways between East Washington Street and East Adams Street, along East 10th Street and East 14th Street in Downtown Brownsville.

The Market Square Revitalization Project seeks to provide visual and functional improvements throughout Brownsville’s Main Street District by making Market Square safer, and more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly, while facilitating future economic growth.

The Market Square Revitalization Project seeks to provide visual and functional improvements throughout Brownsville’s Main Street District by making Market Square safer, and more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly, while facilitating future economic growth.

The Market Square Revitalization Project will permanently close Market Square Street to vehicular traffic, yielding a pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly plaza with landscaping, fountains, the addition of a life-size chess board, and other amenities.

Additionally, undergrounding improvements to the alleyways and Market Square Street will be coupled with street paving improvements on East 11th Street and East 12th Street, between East Adams Street and East Washington Street.

The Market Square Revitalization Project seeks to provide visual and functional improvements throughout Brownsville’s Main Street District by making Market Square safer, and more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly, while facilitating future economic growth.

Funding for the $3.4 million project is provided by the City of Brownsville and the Brownsville Public Utilities Board.

“Market Square is going to be transformed,” said Ramiro Gonzalez, assistant director for the city planning & zoning division. “We’re really excited for this project. It’s going to bring life to Market Square and the Main Street District. Our ultimate goal is to protect and showcase this historic site, while providing a safe space for the community to enjoy.”

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Boswell Praises TSTC at its 50th Anniversary Gala

Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell has praised Texas State Technical College for the impact it has had on economic development in the Rio Grande Valley.

Speaking at a gala to celebrate TSTC’s 50th Anniversary, Boswell told the Rio Grande Guardian that TSTC-Harlingen provides a “wonderful opportunity for the young people of the Valley to get a great skill.” However, he said there is more to it than that. “It has been an economic development partner for the City of Harlingen. We can customize training for industry that wants to locate in the Rio Grande Valley and the State of Texas.”

The City of Harlingen was honored at the gala, which was held in the Governor’s Ballroom at the Hilton Austin on Wednesday evening. Appropriately, Gov. Greg Abbott was guest of honor. Former Texas Comptroller Susan Combs was emcee and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn sent a video message.

More than $330 was raised for the TSTC Foundation to support the needs of TSTC’s students.

The gala was attended by almost 700 VIPs, including state legislators, the TSTC Foundation Board, the TSTC Board of Regents, sponsors, community leaders, industry leaders, TSTC alumni, current students, retirees, leadership, faculty and staff.

“Harlingen is being honored for its contributions to the development of this great school. We are really proud of the relationship we have between the City of Harlingen and Texas State Technical College because it has been a tremendous asset for our community, but not just the City of Harlingen but the entire state of Texas,” Boswell told the Rio Grande Guardian in a video interview.

Boswell said the City of Harlingen benefits from the 550 people TSTC-Harlingen employees. “More importantly, they have been an anchor for economic development and the development and attraction of other industries into our community,” he said.

Wednesday was 50 years to the day since the legislation creating TSTC was passed. Four individuals/entities were honored by the TSTC Foundation: Former State Senator Murray Watson, Jr., of Central Texas; the Honorable R. Temple Dickson, III (awarded posthumously) from West Texas; the City of Harlingen, and Marshall Economic Development Corporation from East Texas.

TSTC was established in 1965 as the James Connally Technical Institute of Texas A&M University in Waco to meet the state’s evolving workforce needs. In 1967…

Read more at The Rio Grande Guardian.

Mercedes to Get New Hotel, Restaurants, Residency Program

Mercedes is soon to get a new 85-room hotel with a national flag that is completely new to the Rio Grande Valley, along with three or four new restaurants, says the city’s economic development leader.

Hernan Gonzalez, executive director of the Development Corporation of Mercedes, said the hotel and restaurants will be on the north side of Expressway 83, right across from the Rio Grande Valley Premium Outlets on I-2/Expressway 83. The hotel will include a meeting room/small conference center.

In another sign of Mercedes rebranding itself, the city will also be getting a component of a residency program allied to the UT-RGV School of Medicine, Gonzalez said, proudly.

“I cannot tell you who yet but I can tell you there is going to be a new hotel with a national flag that is not in this market, yet, with a modest meeting facility or convention center. It will be right across the expressway from the Outlets, with construction in the next six months or less. In ten days we might be able to say who the developer is,” Gonzalez said.

“Obviously, that would not work unless we had three or four restaurants. So, another developer is working on that. We have two simultaneously focused developers working on two different aspects. They are not related but there is a lot of synergy. It is going to change the face of Mercedes.”

The Rio Grande Valley Premium Outlets has really put Mercedes on the map. It has features 140 designer outlet stores and attracts six to seven million visitors a year. Naturally enough, the presence of Premium Outlets in Mercedes helped Gonzalez secure the new hotel.

“Six to seven million visitors a year, that is what made it attractive to have a hotel and conference center. When I was talking to the developer he told me that when the Embassy Suites was built outside of San Marcos in no man’s land, people thought the company was crazy. Now it has become a meeting place for Central Texas. It is because it is in the middle, conveniently located. They think this facility, a nice hotel with a little conference center will have a regional draw also. It is an easy commute from Brownsville on the expressway and an easy commute from McAllen. I think people are going to say, let’s meet there. And there is no congestion on the expressway.”

Gonzalez confirmed the new hotel will have at least 85 rooms, possibly more. “If you host something Valley-wide in Brownsville a lot of people from McAllen won’t go. It’s the same thing with Brownsville folks if you host it McAllen. Here it is neutral ground. Fifteen, 20 minutes, you are there. Once you get on the expressway everything moves fairly well.”

Regarding the residency program, Gonzalez said: “We are working on maybe getting a component of one of the residency programs with UT-RGV School of Medicine. It makes sense. A small component of a huge medical school but it would be very visible. It appeals to the sponsoring entity.” Residents have to have a healthcare facility to work in. So, does that mean Mercedes would be getting such a facility, Gonzalez was asked. “Yes,” he replied.

One of the key projects along Expressway 83 that Gonzalez has been working on…

Read more at The Rio Grande Guardian.

New Group Looks to Advise Young Mexican Entrepreneurs

 Dozens of entrepreneurs dressed in suits and evening wear donning small red square lapel pins with the letters AEM — Association of Mexican Entrepreneurs — mingled inside the Mexican Consulate last week to launch a new chapter for young adults in the Rio Grande Valley.

For Alfonso Chavez, the new McAllen youth association president from Guadalajara, Mexico, having a support network after moving to McAllen seven years ago was a lifesaver.

“When I was a freshman in college I would buy stuff from small businesses and resell it,” Chavez said about one of his first stints in the business world selling automobile parts and accessories. But when it came time to settle up with the federal government for the money he earned from his side business, he wasn’t sure what to do.

“I didn’t know which was the appropriate legal entity to start my company and I ended up making mistakes on my taxes,” he said. “I tried to look for help, like an organization to give me advice but there was none.”

Chavez said he eventually went to the San Antonio-based business association for advice and helped spur the Valley chapter.

The association was formed in 1996 by a group of Mexican-born small business owners seeking support for new startups in San Antonio and now boasts membership in more than a dozen cities in the United States and six major cities in Mexico. The AEM Rio Grande Valley organization was formed two years ago to help…

Read more at The Brownsville Herald.

Future Medical School Means Transformative Growth in Edinburg

The City of Edinburg is already reaping the benefits from a future medical school before it even opens, according to city leaders.

From record numbers of building permits to fielding questions from interested parties regarding development in the city, a transformation is not so quietly taking place that will launch Edinburg into a new era of growth, according to city manager Ramiro Garza.

“With the new medical school opening, it has become a destination type of marketing opportunity not only for us but for the region,” Garza said. “We just see that as the additional benefit because we already know the benefits it brings to us by just having a medical school here.”

The UT Board of Regents has appropriated $196 million for construction, including $54 million for an academic building for the future UT-RGV medical school.
As part of a Memorandum of Understanding signed by all the major cities in the Rio Grande Valley with the University of Texas System, Edinburg has pledged $1 million over the next 10 years to support the new medical school, which is slated to open its doors in 2016.

“I think in our case we saw it as an economic development project, for us and for everyone in the Valley,” said Edinburg City Manager Ramiro Garza. “We see the benefit that the medical schools have had in other areas of the country, we know that the impact it will have in our region, may be even more.

“We are going to be able to not only train doctors…..

Read more at Rio Grande Guardian